Tom Feagley, Past Bread of Life Executive Director.
I spent parts of two distribution days at Bread of Life's emergency food pantry. I asked volunteers and staff two questions: "What moved you to be involved? and "What inspires you to be involved during this pandemic?" Avery, Katie, Eric, Terri, Dorian, Nikki, Liz and Karen offered thoughtful responses, including:
"I'm not working. School is closed until September. I want to help others in need."
"I want to make a positive difference. Bread of Life has been doing this as long as I remember."
"I'm in a position where I am able to do something meaningful to help others."
"I want to do something good for others in need."
"I've always worked in social service. It's part of who I am."
"When I struggled to make ends meet a few years ago, Bread of Life kept me and my family afloat. Now I get to do the same for others."
"Helping others makes me feel good."
Although their choices of words were different, their answers were the same: I want to help others." McKay Russo, BOIL's Pantry Coordinator, states that the pantry has been offering as many as 185 free food orders. Each contains a minimum of 4 bags, nearly 40 pounds of quality food - double what the pantry was doing before COVID-19.
Karen Buck said "Now I benefit from meeting other dedicated people and learning new skills. I am hooked!"
According to Gabriella Snyder Stelmack, "BOL initiated a free grocery delivery service to seniors, disabled and residents who need to self-isolate. Volunteers have delivered to 320 households in 10 communities, including yours."
A teenaged boy who has been volunteering with BOL's Pantry for two years, "I like being part of a team doing good things." Although BOL's income has grown, it has not doubled. The pandemic hit just as they were ramping up their "Under One Roof" capital campaign. The goals are to develop the 54 Eastern Avenue site to include a commercial kitchen, dining room, storage for food and supplies, walk in cooler and freezer, and offices. BOL's development project will include efficiency apartments to house 14 single women and men leaving homelessness.
Katie summed it up best: "I want to give hope."
We are living in and through challenging times. Jobs disappear. Schools close. Bills go unpaid. People choose between paying full rent or buying food. Lives can fall apart. Much seems hopeless.
Not so at Bread of Life.
Thomas J. Feagley